Cocaine and meth (methamphetamines) are both listed as stimulants because of their similar physiological and behavioral effects. Both can change the user’s level of dopamine, which creates an elevated mood and the feeling of increased energy. Both drugs can greatly harm the person using either drug. Nonetheless, cocaine and methamphetamine have significant differences, including the physical consequences, how long the effects last, and the chances of overdose.
Both drugs can be smoked, injected, or snorted. Both produce an intense, very pleasurable rush, followed by a feeling of euphoria, commonly referred to as being “high.” Cocaine and meth’s effects take longer to feel when the drugs are snorted. Those are a few of their similarities.
Let’s take a deeper look at both substances, though, and learn more about each one and how they compare.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug sold as a white crystalline powder. It is derived from coca leaves. Its base (crack) is usually small, irregularly shaped rocks. Coke, as it is called, can be used in several ways. Its powder form can be snorted, dissolved in water, and injected. The rock base form (crack) is smoked. People on a cocaine binge will use it until it runs out or the person becomes exhausted, as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) notes.
Cocaine is a very potent and addictive illegal drug. When it is sold on the street, the coke may be mixed with other ingredients to increase the profits of the drug dealer, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Some additives may include cornstarch, flour, or talcum powder. Dangerous other ingredients that may be added are amphetamine and synthetic opioids, which include fentanyl.
What Is Methamphetamine?
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that is very powerful and addictive. The crystal form of it looks like glass shards, or they can be shiny with a blue-white tint and shaped like a rock. NIDA writes that it is chemically like amphetamine, the drug prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy.
Methamphetamine can be used in a few different ways:
- Injecting the powder dissolved in water or alcohol
- Swallowing (pill form)
- Snorting powder
How Addictive Is Meth?
Meth is cheap to buy on the street, making it very easy to obtain. Its effects of hyperfocus, endless energy, and euphoria lead those who use it to take more of it. As a psychostimulant, it also keeps the user awake for a long time. The drug can also cause loss of appetite, increased heart rate, and possibly strange or violent behavior.
When meth wears off, the user will want more. The sense of well-being, euphoria, extreme focus, and energy fade away, and less desirable feelings emerge. Some individuals may feel paranoid and depressed. To avoid these unwanted feelings, the person will take more meth. This all leads to a vicious cycle of use and abuse.
Meth is very addictive due to the rush of dopamine. The rush of the “feel-good” chemical in the brain can be very hard to ignore. Some people feel a pleasant sense of relief when they experience that rush and want it again once the drug’s effects wear off. Meth changes the way the brain works the longer a person uses it. Obtaining and using meth will become the main focus of an individual’s life to the point where everything else is neglected. This is an addiction.
What Are the Differences Between Cocaine and Meth?
Cocaine and meth differ in many ways. Here, we will address them.
Half-life: Cocaine has a short half-life with over 50 percent of the amount used eliminated in an hour from the body. The half-life for meth is much longer as it can take up to 12 hours to be removed from the body. Meth stays in the body longer, providing a longer-lasting “high” than cocaine and other stimulants. The effects of meth last longer and could produce psychosis, which is more commonly associated with meth than coke.
Dopamine manipulation: Cocaine blocks the reabsorption of dopamine, which prolongs its action in the brain. Meth also blocks the reabsorption of dopamine, but it also releases an increase of it, causing significantly higher concentrations of it, according to a University of Arizona publication about meth. This effect of meth is desirable for those who abuse it.
Cocaine and Meth Addiction: What to Know
Cocaine and meth addiction are serious substance use disorders. It can be very difficult for the individual using either substance to stop using. There are different factors in how a person can become addicted to cocaine or meth. Below, we outline some of them.
As mentioned previously, cocaine has a short half-life, meaning the onset of effects comes on quicker and does not last long. If coke is smoked, the effects are almost immediate. If snorted, it takes from about three to five minutes to get “high.” If injected, the time it takes to feel the effects is between 15 to 30 minutes. The “comedown” from coke typically takes from one to three hours, and the individual will likely feel withdrawal symptoms rather quickly. This often leads to what is called “binge and crash,” which often leads to dependence and addiction.
Cocaine Addiction Signs and Symptoms
- Extended periods of wakefulness
- White powder around nostrils
- Runny nose of frequent sniffling
- Dilated pupils
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Late for work or missing work
- Financial troubles
- Legal issues
Meth is a highly addictive stimulant drug. Once someone tries for the first time, they may want more of it due to the desirable “high” it produces. Once that wears off, the second hit of meth will be weaker due to the brain being able to release a specific amount of dopamine at once. The more often someone does meth, the potency of it will seem weaker, meaning the brain has become tolerant of the drug. Dependence and addiction might soon take root.
Meth’s effects last longer due to the prolonged release of dopamine. It takes about 12 hours for 50% of the drug to be removed from the body. Addiction to meth produces some telltale signs or symptoms.
Meth Addiction Signs and Symptoms
- Excessive talking
- Increased ability to be distracted
- Withdrawal from regular activities
- Lying about activities
- Dilated pupils
- Unexplained weight loss
- Strange sleep patterns
- Tooth decay or missing teeth
- Skin picking and sores on the skin
- Loss of consciousness
Which Is Worse: Coke or Meth?
It is known that the physical effects of meth abuse are more noticeable than those of coke. Meth users will have sores on the skin, decayed and missing teeth, sunken eyes, and appear to have wasting syndrome (be very thin). People abusing meth will avoid eating and lose all sense of time. It is also cheaper to buy than coke, therefore, making it more easily accessible.
People who abuse coke usually do not have any outward physical distinctions as those of meth users. Cocaine use does harm the nose and throat. Coke may come in different purities, which may cause harm, and it can be cut with inert substances that can be harmful also. Coke may even be cut with fentanyl, which is a very potent opioid that could lead to death by overdose.
Both coke and meth are very addictive drugs, and both can be very difficult to quit using,
National Statistics on Cocaine and Meth Abuse
Cocaine and meth use and abuse in the United States is a continuing public health problem. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in which the data below was pulled, indicates there is still a need for substance use and prevention at every age level.
Cocaine and crack cocaine use in the US
- Age 12 and older – 5.9 million people
- 12 to 17 years old – 97,000 people
- 18 to 25 years old – 1.8 million people
- 26 years and older – 3.6 million people
Alarmingly, the number of people who tried cocaine for the first time is still high, as these figures show:
- Age 12 and older – 671,000 and 1,800 children per day are estimated to have tried it
- 18 to 25 years old – 476,000 people with an average of 1,300 new users per day
- 26 years and older – 235,000 people, with an average of about 370 new adult users per day
- Age 12 and older – 2 million people
- 18 to 25 years old – 275,000 people
- 25 years and older – 1.1 million people
If we look at the number of people who used meth for the first time, the data can be shocking.
- Age 12 and older – 184,000 people with an estimated 510 new users each day
- 18 to 25 years old – 63,000 with an estimated 170 new users every day
- 25 years and older – 96,000 with an estimated 260 new users per day
Cocaine addiction or a cocaine substance use disorder is an ongoing problem in the United States. It affects everyone no matter their age, economic status, cultural background, or level of education. The data is eye-opening on the number of people with a substance use disorder for cocaine and meth.
- Age 12 and older – 1.5 million children have a cocaine addiction
- 18 to 25 years old – 250,000 have a cocaine addiction
- 25 years and older – 756,000 have a cocaine addiction
- Age 12 and older – 684,000 children have a meth addiction
- 18 to 25 years old – 125,000 young adults have a meth addiction
- 25 years and older – 539,000 people with a meth substance use disorder
Addiction is also called a substance use disorder and is defined as “a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences,” by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Cocaine and Meth Overdose Fatalities
Additional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 relay upsetting news about the number of overdose deaths caused by cocaine, and more likely, cocaine cut with fentanyl, and also overdose deaths caused by meth abuse.
The CDC reports that cocaine overdose deaths rose by 26.5 percent. Overdose deaths related to psychostimulants, including meth, rose by 34.8 percent, and meth overdose deaths have exceeded cocaine overdose deaths.
The Wrap Up: Cocaine vs. Meth
Now that we’ve gone over cocaine vs. meth and its primary differences, it’s important to summarize everything in this article. While both drugs are stimulants, the primary difference between cocaine and meth is how they affect the body. Many people wonder – is cocaine meth? However, the answer is no. Cocaine produces an intense, short-lived high, which requires users to take more and more throughout the night. Meth produces a long-lasting, incredibly intense high that the individual won’t use as much.
Many people also wonder – is meth the same as coke? But as we’ve mentioned several times throughout this article, the differences are vast. Another significant difference is the half-life of the two drugs. Drugs lose their effect based on the half-life, which is how quickly the body breaks down or metabolizes the toxins, and cocaine can be metabolized in as little as an hour. For meth, the body requires 12 hours to metabolize the same amount of meth in most cases. Each person is different and processes drugs differently. For these reasons, many people use meth because it produces a more intense, longer-lasting high.
Unfortunately, the meth of today is far more potent than in the past. Cocaine and meth increase dopamine levels, but meth has been scientifically proven to deplete higher levels of dopamine in the brain since nerve cells respond differently to the two drugs. While cocaine prolongs dopamine actions in the brain by blocking the reuptake of neurotransmitters, meth increases the release of dopamine, which can be toxic to nerve terminals.
Another difference is how the drugs are used. While we’re used to hearing about the illicit meth produced in clandestine labs and brought across the border, the active ingredient is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy to help individuals curb their appetite to lose weight. Cocaine is an illicit drug rarely used as a local anesthetic in some surgical procedures. This is far rarer than it once was, and meth is actually used more for medical purposes than cocaine.
Although both drugs are stimulants, the withdrawal will also differ. Unlike opioid or alcohol withdrawal, someone going through cocaine withdrawal won’t show physical symptoms. The most common withdrawal symptoms of cocaine manifest themselves through behavioral changes. One primary difference between cocaine and meth withdrawal is that cocaine produces symptoms immediately, whereas, with meth, you won’t notice them for several hours after your last dose. The most common symptoms include cravings, which develop as quickly as 90 minutes after the previous dose. Depression is also common, as well as suicidal thoughts. If you’re considering hurting yourself, please reach out for help.
Meth withdrawal produces similar symptoms but is often more severe than cocaine withdrawal. They occur in two phases – the first phase is the most intense and occurs during the first 24 hours after someone uses meth. They gradually get less severe over a week. Then, there is a subacute phase that lasts several weeks or months. The potency of meth today has changed the withdrawal process. While meth was never easy to stop using, many people don’t return to normal for several years after quitting. That is one difference between the two – the side effects of meth withdrawal last far longer than cocaine.
Treatment is your only option if you’re losing a battle to cocaine or meth addiction. The withdrawal symptoms are severe enough to push you into a deep depression and suicidal thoughts. For that reason, surrounding yourself with medical professionals is important. You can save yourself and work on a better future.
Cocaine and Meth Addiction Treatment
As previously mentioned, addiction is a treatable, chronic disease of the brain that alters how its reward system functions. People dependent on or addicted to cocaine or meth have options for finding treatment for a substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health disorder. It is entirely possible to stop using coke or meth and remain drug-free for life.
An individual addicted to coke or meth will display signs that they are in the throes of addiction. These signs can be very heart-wrenching to observe but are essential to know. They include:
- An intense focus on obtaining/using addictive substances
- Spending money on an unaffordable substance habit
- Turning to addictive substances to cope with personal problems
- Strong need to use the substance(s) daily or multiple times a day
- Continuing to use despite the negative consequences
- Strong cravings for drugs and alcohol
- Failing to stop using despite previous attempts
- Exhibiting high-risk behaviors while high
- High tolerance for a substance
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms once use is stopped/reduced
Drug addiction treatment with Delphi focuses on the whole person and not just the substance use. Our experienced staff are caring professionals who work with our clients to become free from drugs and help them find the root cause of addiction. Our staff also helps them learn how to avoid triggers and prevent relapse.
If you enter one of the Delphi treatment programs, you will undergo an intake and assessment process to determine the severity of your addiction, history of relapse and assess if there are any underlying co-occurring disorders that also need addressing. The level of care that you will be placed in will determine the types of services available for you to in treatment.
It also provides a guideline for the time you will need to spend in treatment and therapy services each week. A continuum of care is set in place, which is a guideline for progressing from one level to the next. As you pass through each level of care, your treatment might become less intensive. Each step in progression allows more freedom while you continue to receive the support you need.
What Are Delphi’s Levels of Care?
Each step in these levels of care is meant to safely get you through to the next one.
Detox – Often called medical detox, this is an inpatient treatment that is medically overseen for 24 hours each day. Detox is the process in which your body is ridding itself of all toxins. Medical and addiction personnel are readily available to tend to any physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Inpatient/Residential – Inpatient/residential treatment is the next step after detox. It still includes 24-hour care. You might be under medical monitoring. Inpatient treatment is generally shorter than residential treatment. Inpatient care is focused on intensive and immediate medical care in a clinical setting.
Residential treatment is longer in duration and will involve a more comfortable and home-like setting. It also includes a comprehensive treatment plan that helps heal the mind, body, and soul.
Partial Hospitalization – Partial hospitalization (PHP) is the highest level under outpatient care. It involves 20 hours or more of treatment or therapy services per week. Its main focus is for those who are addicted to drugs is to give clients rigorous therapy methods to educate the client on addiction and bolster them against relapse. PHP treatment is for at least five days per week and meets on set days and at scheduled times. When each session is over, the client can go home to where they live.
Intensive Outpatient – Intensive outpatient (IOP) includes nine or more hours of therapy services per week. IOP groups are smaller than other levels of care, allowing more focus on the client and their needs. It also involves more flexible scheduling. The client may attend group and individual therapy, pharmacotherapy, and psychoeducational programming.
Aftercare – Aftercare at Delphi begins when the client has passed through all the other levels of care. Through a strong and supportive network of those in their same position, the Delphi Alumni program connects individuals with others in the community, hosts substance-free gatherings, and helps clients find community sources to support them.
Delphi Drug Addiction Treatment FAQS
At Delphi, we are always thinking ahead. Below are some commonly asked questions and answers for you.
How Long Does Addiction Treatment Last?
Addiction treatment should last at least 90 days to be effective and usually brings the best results.
How Much Does Addiction Treatment cost?
It depends on what addiction treatment center you choose, the therapies you undergo, medications prescribed, and amenities the center offers. Luxury treatment centers will cost more than non-luxury centers. Treatment costs might range from a few thousand dollars to several thousand dollars. There are several ways to pay for drug rehab.
What Insurance Does Delphi Take?
Good question. Most insurance companies will probably offer some substance use disorder and behavioral health treatment coverage. We accept most insurance plans from most of the major private health insurance providers. We are also in-network with several providers, including Aetna, Cigna, and a few others. Give us a call to verify if your insurance plan covers drug rehab services.
Will I Need to Travel to a Delphi Facility?
If you live in a state where a Delphi facility is located, you will need to travel to get there. If you choose a Delphi facility that is out of state, you will also need to travel. There are positive benefits to attending drug treatment outside of your hometown or state, such as a starting over where no one knows you and your triggers are far away.
Does Delphi Provide Transportation?
Delphi provides transportation to and from therapy sessions for those in treatment at one of our centers. We know that transportation is often a reason why some people do not seek addiction treatment, and we do our best to help. Delphi can provide transportation to and from airports, but you will need to pay and handle the flights. While in treatment at a Delphi facility, we offer rides to and from any off-campus appointments.
What Else Should I Know About Delphi?
Delphi Behavioral Health Group believes in individualized addiction treatment in comfortable, home-like settings. Our addiction treatment plans are developed with your input and grow and change as you do. We do not believe in a one-size-fits-all program for substance use. We treat the whole of you, not just the addiction. Our staff is dedicated, caring, and highly trained, and they will treat you with respect and dignity. We provide a low client-to-staff ratio, allowing more focus on you and your needs. Our staff is licensed, and our addiction treatment centers are accredited. We have a 4.8-star rating on Google. If you want to contact us, please click here.
Addiction treatment should help you heal in every possible way. Your substance use treatment and any other problems you may be struggling with will be addressed and cared for. You will never be alone at a Delphi substance use treatment center from the moment you step in the door. Fighting addiction is difficult, and we know that. We will be with you and by you the whole way.